Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Qayah Qlalah and Q---!!!

A few years back, one of my colleagues agreed to help me with a revision to a story that is now being released as Talmid. She commented that some of my expletives sounded too modern and suggested I find some good first-century Aramaic cuss words to replace them. I enjoy a challenge, so I attempted to find a few.

Tonight, thanks to the gremlin that has decided to move into my laptop, I have been using those words. Not in the novel—in my living room. Good thing there's no one else in the apartment tonight. (The snakes don't count since they don't understand Aramaic.) Been trying all week to upload book two of Talmid to the publisher, but my proofs keep coming back with blank pages interspersed randomly throughout the novel. That's a distinct improvement over last week when the proofs were  forty pages short, but it's still making me want to utter deletable expletives.

One of the fun things about Aramaic cuss words is that they all seem to start with the letter Q. At least, all the ones I use in my novels start with Q. I find them a refreshing alternative to English cuss words. You know the ones I mean. There's the A-word, the B-word, the C-word, the D-word...and of course the ever-increasingly-popular F-word. But English doesn't seem to have a Q-word.
Side note: Ten years ago I was babysitting a friend's first-grader and he wanted to watch a certain TV program, but I didn't think it was age appropriate so I wouldn't let him watch it. He confessed that his mom wouldn't let him watch it either, "because they use the S-word and the E-word." If you are baffled, don't feel bad. I spent hours trying to figure out the E-word. Later I asked his mother and she told me the E-word is "idiot." (He was raised in Miami.)
Anyway, some people might object to the fact that the characters in my novels cuss. My philosophy is simple: except for Yeshua, every character sins, because every character is human. Sometimes this means they say naughty things. If I were writing for children, my characters would use the E-word, but since I am writing for adults, they use the Q-words. On occasion, they use select English cuss words (usually the D-word or the S-word but never the F-word). They also use Biblical allusions. My personal favorites: "Balaam's ass!" (Katan, Brothers) and "Job's boils!" (Yochanan, The Voice). The Q-words are particularly useful because they allow my characters to lose their tempers without too greatly offending my readers.

An unfortunate side-effect of my discovery of the Q-words is that I have become aware of ironic homonyms and sometimes giggle inappropriately...for example, when someone refers to "men's cologne" I cannot keep a straight face.

Disclaimer: If I have offended you with this post, I am extremely sorry. I've been up 'way too late trying to finish the revision and I am getting a little punchy. But like my characters, I am a human being and sometimes I say naughty things, especially when I've been immersing myself in a character who is going through a naughty phase, such as Yuannan goes through in Talmid: Bread. (He is very naughty in this book, I am sad to say, but the Holy Spirit will straighten him out eventually.)

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